Notes on a Play You’ll Never See

So, I’m pouring as fast as I can through The Playwrights’ Guidebook by Stuart Spencer in order to get some ideas for how to start revising my play.  As you’ll recall, for those of you coming late to the discussion, Plimco works for a theater company who’s having a contest and she encouraged me to submit something.

The rules are that it has to have something to do with an anniversary somehow, it has to have four or fewer people in it, it has to be gay-friendly, and it has to be shorter than 30 minutes.

I whooped up a play about an up-and-coming country star whose whole shtick is to reimagine and bring back the sparkly rhinestoned cheesy glamour of the country music of our youth, who is performing on the Opry for the first time, on her birthday.

A dashing reporter–in my mind played by Gina Gershon–comes to interview her.

They talk and drink and make out and then the country star must decide if she’s going to come out.

Here are the problems as I see it:

1. I don’t have any idea what motivates my reporter, because when push came to shove and it became obvious that she would of course realize that she’d just uncovered the biggest story of the year in country music news, she just is all like, “Well, there are a lot of closeted gay people in country music.  I’ll keep your secret.”

Why would she do that?

She wouldn’t, of course, but when I wrote in the scene where she wants to report it and the star doesn’t want her to report it, I couldn’t figure out how to resolve it, and so I just reworked it so she was unnaturally nice and understanding.

2.  In order to feel good about her being unnaturally nice and understanding, I made her sometimes really smart and sometimes an idiot.  Here she is, a reporter interviewing a country singer, and she has to be schooled on country music?  No, I’ve got to make her smarter.

3.  Until last night, I didn’t understand what motivated my singer.  All the clues are there in the draft I wrote, but I thought she was motivated by wanting to be able to be who she was (gay) and also be able to be a country singer.

But last night, I realized that what appeals to her about country music is the strong tradition and the idea that, if you get on the Opry and join the Opry, you’ll be set for life; you’ll always have a group of people you belong to, and who get what you’re doing and why.

And then I asked myself, if she’s about to take that first step towards joining that tradition, why is she sitting in her dressing room getting drunk?

And then I realized, it’s because she’s incredibly lonely and hates her job.

Her being gay is not her big secret.  Her hating her dream job is.

She’s already trying to quit, without realizing it.

And so, for her, it’s not that she kisses a girl that’s the climax.  It’s that she kisses a reporter in a place where they might be walked in on at any minute.  It’s when she becomes aware of the risks she’s taking and why.

And so, when the reporter wants to out her, which of course she will, the singer’s struggle is with will this make her less lonely or not?

So, if the reporter gets excited about how this is going to be the biggest story of her year and how she wants to follow her around and be there to see what happens, the singer is scared, but she’s being offered both a way out and, at least, a temporary cure for her loneliness, because the reporter wants to be by her side getting her big story.

So, at least now, I think I have a way to resolve the action that seems more real.

Unless I read something in the last 80 pages of Spencer’s book that makes me change my mind.